How to Turn a Volunteer Position Into a Job

Two Parts:Becoming an Essential Part of the OrganizationLanding a Job

Getting involved with a volunteer organization that you are passionate about is not only a rewarding experience, it also opens the door for paid part-time or full-time positions down the line. Volunteering also comes with other benefits like making new friends, building professional networks and learning the ins and outs of the organization. Turning your volunteer position into salaried employment requires a lot of patience and hard work, but eventually you can end up with a job that you love.

Part 1
Becoming an Essential Part of the Organization

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    Meet all expectations. Volunteer work is no different than regular employment in terms of the expectations from you. In fact, volunteer work may ask more of you and be more demanding on your time because you are committed to a cause.
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    Be humble. Irrespective of the tasks you are assigned to do, you should gladly accept them and perform them to the best of your ability.
    • Don’t grumble about the position or complain about the tasks you are asked to do. If you are interested and passionate about the volunteer work, this commitment will be visible and people will notice you.
    • Therefore, it's not in your best interest to come across as ungrateful or egotistical.
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    Practice patience. Consider your volunteer position as an opportunity to learn and grow and work on each and every aspect of your duties, just as you would with any regular employment deal.
    • Even if you receive some sort of payment for your volunteer work, you should still utilize this time to establish networks and grow professionally.
    • Being patient will pay you off in the long run — even if you don’t get a paid offer with your current volunteer organization, your network may be able to recommend you for another position.
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    Be proactive. You are not just expected to take ownership of whatever task you are assigned on — while volunteering, you should proactively seek ways to help the cause on a greater scale.
    • Come up with ideas, develop plans and secure a leadership or contributor role to lend your voice to. This shows that you are not just after money but are genuinely interested in the success of the organization.
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    Show your commitment through your actions and attitude. It is of profound importance that you show commitment and dedication to your volunteer position. If you can't make it on a certain day for whatever reason, make sure you give your supervisor adequate notice.
    • Just failing to show up without any explanation will make you seem unreliable and definitely won't help you to secure a job.
    • You need to show up for work each day in a timely manner and put in a committed number of hours. Hopefully this dedication will impress people.
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    Develop long term relationships. Networking is key. You will meet many different people who just like you are passionate to support the cause. Use your volunteer work as an interaction platform and assist in whatever activity you are doing.
    • Connect with as many people as you can during your orientation period and make it a habit to greet new people personal.
    • Being friendly and interactive will ensure that your resume is on the top of the pile for permanent work.
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    Make your connections meaningful. Consider organizing informal meetings like lunch or just a chat over a cup of coffee to learn more about each person at the organization, even if you don’t work with them directly.
    • Being well-connected and making a good impression on people could help you to get a permanent job down the line - even if it's not in the immediate future.
    • Even after you finish with your volunteer position, you can consider sending you connections the occasional email or even a Christmas card. Touching base with these people.will remind them of your presence and make them more likely to contact you about job opportunities.
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    Learn everything you can about the organization. Learn as much as you can about the organization. Understand their mission, their structure and long-term strategy. Also do your best to learn about the culture of the organization. Think about what you could do differently that others are missing out on.
    • For example, you could consider working for a full day (rather than your regular half day) which will let you understand in greater detail how the organization works. Many people who volunteer do not genuinely share a passion for their work and won’t stick around for a longer period of time, so working longer hours will make you stand out from the crowd
    • Furthermore, by working full time, you can also get an exact idea of whether you would be able to stay with the current employees if you get hired as a permanent staff member. You can evaluate whether you are a good fit for this particular organization.

Part 2
Landing a Job

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    Talk to former volunteers. You can tap the network of former volunteers. Reach out to them and gain insight from informational interviews. You can learn a great deal from what the alumni have gone on to do following their volunteer work.
    • Many volunteers are ready to help others who share the same passion and who are already associated with the cause. In case the volunteer organization you work at can't give you the names of alumni volunteers, you can simply go to online networks like Linkedin to search for people’s profiles.
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    Reach out to other companies. Your volunteer work may have allowed you to interact with a number of professionals at consulting firms, donor agencies or even stakeholders. You should make yourself known as a competent and hard working employee.
    • Once you do that, you can reach out to these folks and let them know that you are looking for opportunities and discuss with them some ideas you have already brainstormed about potential careers.
    • For example, you can give your contacts the details about where exactly you worked i.e. you might be associated with a volunteer organization that supports flood victims. #*Even if they can't help you you themselves, they might be able to connect you with someone who can.
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    Express your experience in quantitative terms. One of the best ways to secure a long term deal is to translate your volunteer experience into quantifiable terms which will give others a fair idea of how you contributed to the organization.
    • Whatever role you played, for example, designing a project, you can tell a potential employer the number of hours you put into designing the projects. You can also mention the hours you devoted to training others.
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    Discuss the skills you can offer. You can discuss your key skills and strengths with your contacts and can highlight your expertise in certain specific areas like understanding of local culture or even language if you volunteered overseas.
    • If you helped out with specific tasks, like providing support to the hiring manager and helping to hire new volunteers, you should draw attention to this information as well.
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    Tailor your resume. Many job seekers tend to disregard the value of volunteer work they did and refrain from putting it on their resume.
    • However, when you reach out to people for a long term opportunity, you should present your volunteer work as you would demonstrate any sort of paid employment. What really matters is the skills you developed as part of your experience, not the fact of whether you got paid or not.
    • If you present your volunteer experience nicely on your resume, you increase your chances of being considered for a full time role since the volunteer organization where you worked will definitely put in a good word for you.


  • Volunteering can offer a path for job seekers to broaden their networks, sharpen their skills and abilities or simply stay busy. However, this benevolent type of work experience has helped many change their status from volunteer to a full time staff member.
  • Many times brilliant volunteers are not preferred for full time work because of their ego. If you start volunteering and purposely try to overshadow staff members by displaying that you know everything; you have already shut down the doors for you.
  • Avoid grumbling about the financial realities of volunteering time. This is extremely important because finances are a sensitive subject for the organization and if you entered a non-profit organization you should be a professional and stay quiet about the cash situation.
  • Showing impatience about not being offered a full time position despite working for a long time will serve to put you in the limelight but with a negative spin. Therefore, try stick to what the organization wants you to do and keep waiting for a full time opportunity if you want to be a part of your volunteer organization.

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Categories: Occupations | Volunteer and Community Service